Corsairs return to playoffs
The Santa Monica College men's basketball team clinched a conference championship and returned to the playoffs this past Saturday with a win over the Los Angeles Valley Monarchs at the Corsair Pavilion. Despite a slow start to the season, the Corsairs finished with a 20-7 overall record and an 8-4 western conference record.
An early game ankle injury sidelined star player Deshawn Stephens, however the Corsairs handled the Monarchs of L.A Valley with ease.
Sophomores Everett Brown and Matt Sinclair led the way with early baskets and the Corsairs jumped out to an early lead while L.A. Valley struggled to find the rim in the first half, as star players Marcus Johnson and James Shipp were frustrated by the Corsair defense.
The Corsairs took advantage of the struggling Monarchs offense by running their run-and-gun offense making it difficult for L.A. Valley to keep tempo enabling the Corsairs to go into the half leading 42-33.
At the half, coach Jenkins told his team to "Play hard and stay focused." The Corsairs responded with an energized start as they went on a 10-3 run to begin the second half.
The Corsair's Everett Brown and Matt Sinclair stepped up in the absence of Deshawn Stephens's and were key contributors, both finishing the game in double figures.
L.A. Valley struggled from the field throughout the match.
The Corsairs would go on a 13-6 run at the 2-minute mark giving the Corsairs an 89-74 victory and the conference championship for the first time in 12 years, solidifying a playoff spot.
Coach Jenkins is happy with the way his team is playing going into the playoffs and is confident in their ability to stay in close ballgames.
Jenkins feels that rather than intimidating teams this year the Corsairs have discouraged opponents with their consistent play. "We are never out of a game," said Jenkins. "If a team makes a run on us we can come right back and make a run on them."
A lot of his confidence comes from the trust he has in the team captains which has allowed him to step back during games and let them play. "I rarely have to step into the huddle," said Jenkins, "we have strong leadership."
A big part of that leadership comes from sophomore guard and team captain Everett Brown. "We have really found an overall chemistry this season," said Brown. "We look like a team that is playing more together, like a family."
Another captain, sophomore forward Deshawn Stephens, who recently committed to San Diego state, actually prefers playing on the road more than home saying, "I love the energy from the crowd."
Brown seconded that notion stating how he felt the team plays better on the road.
"Every game is a big game and when we are at home we have the advantage, but when we are on the road it really forces me to step up my game. I have no problem going on the road to anyone's house," said Brown.
With the playoffs starting Feb. 26, the Corsairs aren't doing anything other than sticking to the game plan that helped them win the conference. Even though the team has played well all year they feel that they are still under rated knowing that they have a lot to prove.
"I'm anxious," said Brown.